Greens should be an adventure. The game should not end when the ball is safely on the green. Up to 1953, there was one set of rules for golf. It was called "through the green" and you didn't touch the ball until it was to lift it out of the cup, unless perhaps, it was in somebody's way and you moved it to allow them to putt….Today you hit a ball onto the green, mark it, pick it up, put it in your pocket, wipe it, even change it. Then, when it's your turn, you put it back. If there's a pitch mark, you repair it. None of this happens outside the green and it shouldn't happen on the green. PETER THOMSON
I'm not sure about Zach Johnson's claim regarding the field in Atlanta, at least based on the DNP's in the FedEx Cup standings...
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"It's too early to call it a bust, but it's not too early to be concerned about its utter lack of buzz."
Golf.com's Gary Van Sickle gets all curmudgeonly about 2007's disappointments. Two that stood out for his crisp assessments:
10. The FedEx Cup The PGA Tour has tried to force feed us the points standings. The Golf Channel keeps cramming the points list down our throats. Still, no one cares. Nothing seems to be at stake. The race to the FedEx Cup playoffs? Hardly, since 144 players qualify. Which is everybody who is anybody. And why keep track of the points since they're just going to be reset for the playoffs? There is no drama, no interest and no reason to get interested in the FedEx Cup points standings yet. It's too early to call it a bust, but it's not too early to be concerned about its utter lack of buzz.
That's just so wrong. After all, if the playoffs started today, Anders Hansen would not be in them. Gary, you can't buy tension like that!
Moving on, I think this assessment is consistent with what we've seen in the past. Namely, that time tends to put over-the-top course setups into perspective...
3. The Masters It was disappointing that what I've been writing for the last five years was proven correct, that Augusta National with firm and fast conditions and some wind is the toughest golf course in the world. For three days, conditions were so difficult and greens so firm that nobody could make many birdies. Never have so many good shots turned out not so good. As a result, the best players weren't able to separate themselves from the pack. Skill was equalized. It wasn't until Masters officials saw the light and softened the greens for Sunday's final that we began to see the familiar birdies and eagles and hear the familiar roars from Amen Corner. Former chairman Hootie Johnson was right to lengthen and tough the course but went a bit too far. It doesn't need rough — or whatever quaint term they call it — and it doesn't need all those extra trees planted on 7, 11 and 15. For the first time in recent memory, the Masters came close to being boring for three days.
"Everybody that teed it up this week, for the most part ... is going to be in the top 50, top 30, top 15 players in the world.’’
Golfweek's Travis Hill takes an entertaining look at the weekend's more outlandish quotes and happenings, including the above Zach Johnson quote along with those painfully embarrassing final day interviews with the VP of Painfully Embarrassing Final Day Interviews (I'm guess Hill was inspired to rant after Peter Kostis's breathless Q&A at the AT&T).
A few readers have wondered why this site no longer offers weekly driving distance updates. Frankly, sheer laziness drove the decision. Though my lazy attitude stems from a sixth sense that the governing bodies are so remarkably impotent and prone to spin that tracking the numbers is pointless.
One reader inquired as to why the numbers were down this year and how they compared to 2006 after twenty weeks of PGA Tour play.
Well at this point last year, the Tour average was 289.2 yards and 920 drives of 350 yards or more had been struck.
2007's are down significantly: 284.7 yards and 785 drives of 350 yards or more.
There have been 17 drives over 400 yards, the same total as 2006 at this point.
Eight players are averaging over 300 yards in 2007 (18 at this point last year).
Bubba Watson was leading at 321.2 yards last year, and leads again in 2007 at 314.7 yards off the tee.
While many conclusions can be drawn from this data--narrowed fairways have finally strangled the life out of the game or soggy conditions continue to slow things down--I believe there is little doubt that the players are simply working out less!
Yes, the vaunted workout programs we've heard about must not be what they used to be.
After all, we heard that the distance spike since 1999 was not caused by the ball or forgiving launch-monitor fit drivers. No, it was those superathletes like Tim Herron and Jeff Quinney and their Jack LaLanne workout programs.
So now that the numbers have dropped, I suppose no one will dare suggest that the equipment isn't as good as it was in 2005? Or that perhaps guys were actually using illegal drivers a few years ago?
No, they're just slacking in the weight room. And you know what that means? No need for performance enhancing drug testing!
Though I do promise to check the numbers more regularly since last week's AT&T Classic caused a 1-yard spike in the average and tacked on 130 drives of 350 yards or more.
Thanks to a reader who caught this Time Inc.-placed classified in Sunday's New York Times:
U.S.A. Editor (Editor-in-Chief) (Manhattan) - Develops policy & content for monthly golfing magazine by directing the editorial operations in all key areas, including instruction, travel, news, equipment, & features. Coordinates all editorial depts. in planning substantive content, generating story ideas, editing of copy, & developing graphic design of magazine. Works w/marketing, circulation, & advertising departments to develop brand & enhance profitability. Liaises w/art & photo depts. to ensure that story briefs are followed strictly. Plans layout, & directs Creative Director & Art Directors to ensure adherence to set parameters. Requirements: Bachelor's in English or Journalism, or foreign equivalent, & 5 yrs of post Bachelor's exp. in position offered. Send resumes to: Time Inc. HR Dept, Attn: Editor-in-Chief Role, 1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020.
Is it me or this a tad strange?
John Huggan makes a couple of good points in his look at the possibility of a Tiger-Phil "rivalry"...
Only 21 days into his new relationship with instructor Butch Harmon, Mickelson played the closing 18 holes of the so-called fifth major in Woods-like fashion, hitting green after green in regulation - 16 of 18 under the pressure of the fourth round - until no-one was left to take him on. It was a fine victory, and a beautifully- constructed round of golf.
Amid the understandable euphoria, however, it must be said that Mickelson has a way to go before he can look Woods in the eye consistently. A closer look at Lefty's numbers from Sawgrass reveals that his driving accuracy and greens-hit percentages were actually a little down on his season average. Which is no surprise.
Jacqueline Gagne has had 10 once-in-a-lifetime experiences in less than four months.
Since Jan. 23, the 46-year-old from Rancho Mirage, Calif., has hit 10 holes in one, or just eight fewer than were hit on the entire Ladies Professional Golf Association tour last year.
Her local paper, the Desert Sun of Palm Springs, Calif., has corroborated Ms. Gagne's feat, running notes alongside articles from editors saying they're just as skeptical as readers, but everything has checked out.
The paper also asked a local statistician, Michael McJilton of the College of the Desert, to compute the odds against the feat. The result, which headlined the article: 113,527,276,681,000,000 to 1. And that was after just seven aces. I asked Mr. McJilton to repeat the computation after Ms. Gagne hit three more in the following couple of weeks, over a total of just 75 rounds. He returned the astronomical number of roughly 12 septillion (12 followed by 24 zeroes) to 1. Such an unlikely event should never happen. It's like winning the lottery four straight times. No wonder David Letterman came calling.
Thanks to reader John for this Tim Carroll story in the WSJ's weekend report on the art of warming up, or in Mac O'Grady's case, not hitting balls before the round.
Tim Rosaforte's online column looks at Oakmont and the potential conditions for this year's Open.
"I was just there Sunday-Monday, and it's more lush than I think we'd kind of hoped," said Mike Davis, the course set-up man for the USGA. Davis sent correspondence to Zimmers, telling him to send out the mowers once it stops raining. Last year at Winged Foot, the first step in the graduated rough was 3 ½ to 4 inches. He asked Zimmers to trim that first cut to 2 ¾ inches. The goal is to make it short enough so the players can show their skills. The week of the tournament, "It could be higher, it could be lower," said Davis.Yes, that 6 inches right off the fairway is such a good test especially when...
This doesn't sit too well at Oakmont, a club that prides itself on sending its guests home feeling the privilege of being penalized by its brutality. "I've never seen an Open here at Oakmont where it wasn't six-inch rough right off the fairway," said the host pro, Bob Ford. "So if it's playable just off the fairway, I think it will have a great effect on the score. Again, it's all about wet and dry: If it's wet it's going to be one score, if it's dry, it's going to be another score. That's true on all golf courses, but particularly here."
Some of the club's members--guys who play in the Swat competitions--are predicting that if the course plays hard and fast, double digits will win The Open. The reason being, Oakmont's fairways were running about 11 on the Stimp after Zimmers put the rollers on them. The average fairway width at Oakmont will be 28 yards, but as one of the club's scratch players pointed out on Thursday, some of the tighter driving holes are only 22 yards wide in spots. But those 22 yards really play 10 yards wide because most of the landing areas tilt and pitch toward the deep stuff.
"Some of the fairway are really tight, and to be honest, one of my concerns is that they get too fast," Davis said. "They've got so much roll, that if they get too fast it's not going to be a good Open. We don't want it turning into '87 at [The] Olympic [Club]. We're going to ask John to hand water the drive zones to keep good drives from rolling into the intermediate rough."
On top of this, the participants will be putting on greens that Zimmers gets rolling at 15 for the year-end Swat Party.
That tells you who the best player is!
Is it me or do these numbers sound
inflated high? 3.2 million unique visitors? Did that many people watch on television!? Or, to put it another way, why didn't millions more watch based on these numbers?
PGATOUR.com Drives Record Numbers
Fans flock to PGATOUR.com’s exclusive LIVE@ THE PLAYERS coverage of the famous 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL -- PGATOUR.com’s exclusive live coverage of the competition set records for the LIVE@ series. Golf fans have embraced the LIVE@ series, PGATOUR.com’s free, live video streaming coverage of every shot from a signature hole at top PGA TOUR events. PGATOUR.com’s LIVE@ THE PLAYERS streamed all the action from the legendary 17th island hole from THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
Results from the week include:
- Over 1.1 million video streams for LIVE@ THE PLAYERS, at an average duration of 25 minutes
- Over 3.2 million unique users and 4.7 million visits, generating over 70 million page views, all up from 2006
- Nearly 2.2 million video starts
“This is exciting news for us. These figures demonstrate that PGATOUR.com is a mainstream medium for event coverage; there is a significant fan value for compelling online tournament coverage,” said Lee Bushkell, General Manager, PGATOUR.com. “PGATOUR.com provided over 40 hours of exclusive live coverage of THE PLAYERS, complementing the PGA TOUR’s expanded television coverage on GOLF Channel and NBC.”
“The success of LIVE@THE PLAYERS further establishes the public’s desire for compelling and cutting-edge sports coverage online,” said Scott Bailey, VP/GM of Turner Sports New Media. “We’re thrilled with the success of LIVE@THE PLAYERS and look forward to continued growth throughout the remainder of the LIVE@ series.”
LIVE@ THE PLAYERS is the fourth of 10 scheduled LIVE@ series events in 2007. The next LIVE@ series event will be LIVE@ the Memorial, highlighting Muirfield Village Golf Club’s 12th hole, May 31-June 3. Other scheduled events include LIVE@ The Buick Open and all four events in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. “PGATOUR.com is all about the fans, and the site’s continued growth shows that we are providing quality coverage that enhances their golf experience,” said Bushkell.
Is there weren't enough problems with Boston's "Big Dig," check out this WBZ-TV news story noticed by reader Mike on driving ranges built inside the tunnels for police and construction worker use.
At least someone in Boston has their priorities straight!
Geoff Ogilvy's "Golf Digest Interview" seems shorter than some of the past incarnations of these always enjoyable chats, especially since just as it ended it felt like things were really rolling. Still, there's still plenty of good stuff to consider.
John Huggan asks the questions and as usual, Ogilvy has a fresh take on the still interesting subject of American golf and the dreaded state of our under-30 set:
There is a contrast right now between Europe and the U.S. when it comes to developing young players.
That's true. I know the U.S. press is looking for the next great American under 30.
Is it just cyclical?
It's an expensive sport in the U.S. It's cheaper in Australia, or the U.K. or South Africa. Anyone can play.
I do think that the American college system is really good at producing guys who can get the ball in the hole, but it neglects the technical aspects of golf. They're looking for the wrong things. I'm not saying the American guys aren't talented; all I'm saying is that some talent is getting missed.
If the Americans sorted their system out, we'd have only five on the PGA Tour [a dozen Aussies are among the top 100 of the World Golf Ranking]. We get more out of our talent than they get out of theirs. Their way of doing things can't be better than ours, because we have 20 million people and they have 300 million. It just doesn't add up.
Given the enormous influx of Australians on the PGA Tour, why hasn't a college coach wondered why and gotten himself down to the VIS [Victorian Institute of Sport] to have a look?
What is that, exactly?
If you go way back to the early 1980s, the Australian government realized we weren't winning any gold medals in anything. Or hardly any. For such a proud sporting nation, that was unacceptable. So the Australian Institute of Sport was started, mainly for Olympic sports. We did well in Atlanta [nine gold medals in the 1996 Olympics], and Sydney [16 golds in 2000] was amazing. And we did even better in Athens [17 golds in 2004]. It's crazy how well we do for such a small nation.
How did golf become a part of that?
The Victorian government decided to supplement it with an institute. Golf kind of came along for the ride. The deal was that you got a scholarship for a year. You got access to the top coaches. You got physical training and nutritional advice. Anything that was going to help make you better.
If I had to sum it up, I'd say that they basically took the best boy and girl players in Victoria and gave them access to all the experts in Victoria--for free. It was brilliant, really. And the bonus was funding for travel.
The best part of it was that they never dictated where you went or how you went about things. They would simply make everyone and everything available to you and let you get on with it. You had to make your own way. And you got time to ride out any bad periods of play.
From Arnold Palmer's "My Shot" as told to Golf Digest's Guy Yocom...
It's pretty well known that Ben Hogan didn't bond with anyone, but I have to say, he was particularly chilly to me. He very pointedly referred to me as "Fellah," even face to face. I just accepted it, and in the end he wasn't my type of guy anyway. I wasn't a special case; he didn't bond with Nelson or Snead, either. He was cordial to them but never was close to either man. He never grew close to any golfer, with the possible exceptions of Jackie Burke and Jimmy Demaret. For all of the talk of my rivalry with Jack Nicklaus, at heart we truly like each other. I can't say the same for Ben Hogan and me.
"Increasing brand awareness and consideration while activating our golf platform on a national scale"
Wouldn't you just love to be in on the meetings that conjured up reasons 1-6 why the Colonial will be must TiVo and fast forward viewing?
Oh, the six reasons being those lame, Man-law wannabe ads for Crown Plaza. What's more tortuous, the press release or the actual ads? Let's start with the release...
Unscripted Meeting of Golf Greats and Celebrities Lends Humor to a 'Good Walk Spoiled'
ATLANTA, April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Two professional golfers, two golf journalists, one Latino comic and a heavy metal rocker arrive at a meeting room ... the set-up for a comedy skit? Nope, it's the setting for Crowne Plaza(R) Hotels & Resorts' first national television advertising campaign. Slated to debut April 12, the multi-million dollar TV and online campaign features national golf commentator/journalist David Feherty attempting to moderate an entirely unscripted conversation amongst TV personality and golf fanatic George Lopez, shock-rocker and avid golfer Alice Cooper,
golf-great Lee Trevino, LPGA star Natalie Gulbis, and outspoken golf scribe Dan Jenkins.
Branded as "The Place to Meet," Crowne Plaza assembled these six seemingly disparate personalities in a Crowne Plaza meeting room to showcase the brand's new golf affinity marketing program, the cornerstone of which is the title sponsorship of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial PGA TOUR golf tournament.
Somehow I never thought I'd associate Lee Trevino or Dan Jenkins with a "golf affinity marketing program."
"Golf has long served as the informal 'place to meet,' so developing a golf platform was a natural way to further align our meetings focus with our customers' interests and hobbies," said Kevin Kowalski, vice president, brand management, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts.
"Our new ad campaign further emphasizes our focus as 'The Place the Meet,' increasing brand awareness and consideration while activating our golf platform on a national scale," Kowalski added. "By showcasing highly entertaining dialogue among some of golf's most unique personalities in a Crowne Plaza setting, we'll entertain our core target - who share a love of golf - and bring to life our meeting room experience in a bold, new way."
And just one of these lovely spots...
...good news, you now have a place to land. I know you've been on pins and needles. Though for those of you with an early tee time who hoped to shuttle in from Nemacolin Woodlands, I think there might be a problem.
Mr. Walker said his service would shuttle people primarily from Pittsburgh International Airport to Plum, but that he also had had inquiries from Nemacolin Woodlands resort and other sites.
The service's helicopter will be permitted to fly in and out of the site, a commercially zoned area at 2015 Eastern Ave., near the Pennsylvania Turnpike, between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. throughout June.
The Journal News' Sam Weinman has a good feel for the Westchester CC-PGA Tour situation, and blogs about it and about being slightly scooped by Damon Hack in the New York Times:
I’ve been following the tour’s tenuous relationship with Westchester pretty much since I started writing about golf in the late 90s, and the same fundamentals still apply. The two parties love to squalk about each other—Westchester members lamenting the inconvenience of the event, the tour lamenting Westchester’s high-maintenance membership—and yet they can’t seem to live without each other.
In some ways, this deal is a match made in heaven. Westchester still has the prestige of hosting a PGA Tour event (a FedEx Cup playoff event no less!), but doesn’t have to do it on an annual basis. Meanwhile the tour can try to capitalize on other pockets of the New York market—I haven’t been to Liberty National but I’ve only heard good things—but can also consistently return to a traditional venue that many of its players still revere.
It seems the Tour's strategy is not to get away from Westchester or the Western but to give the playoffs more excitement by injecting fresh venues. I like the idea of placing an emphasis on architecture and varying setups, though I could also see the merits of returning to the same courses each year too in order to build "tradition." Thoughts?
From John Hawkins' Golf World Players game story:
"Tiger will love this--absolutely love it," Harmon said of Lefty's success at Sawgrass. "It's going to motivate him to get better, and that will be fun to see."